The arrival of spring has been delayed as snow falls during the night, welcoming a new day with a bitter cold that spreads through the woods. Snow covers the ground and buries the tracks from the past week, temporarily erasing the memories that rest below. Green branches are weighed down and droop over the man-made path, heavy feet sinking further down for each step. The sky is a soft grey, an unpleasant colour that the sun cannot pierce through, but snowflakes fall down to earth to soothe the world. There is a silence here that is only brought forward by the depths of winter, and the birds that sung of a new season have fled again, found another hideout to wait out the chilly winds. It is empty, no people dare to come out when a storm might be coming. It’s just nature with all its peace, the breeze dancing around tall trees and low bushes. The lake was frozen and covered in several inches of snow, making it hard to cross, but there were those who were brave enough to attempt it. A moose had left fresh tracks, but the brave soldier had only come halfway before he returned. After all, he did not know what lay on the other side, and the forest seemed awfully dark and the hills terribly steep. Perhaps it was best to wait until the weather settled before he started a new adventure, began a quest for exploration. There is a waterfall roaring nearby, undefeated and still strong, water whipping against the rocks below. Its loud, its message travelling through the valley, proof that there is something still alive nearby. Yet it also serves as a warning, because whoever comes here to drink and recharge from their journey must beware of how treacherous water can be. There was something odd about the way the river flowed below, about the way the waves hit shore and pulled in anything to close. It had been disturbed. At the wildest part, right where the water from above hit the river with great force, a creature crept towards the edge. Out of the shadows it came, moving towards the shore. It did not stop once he had reached it, and leapt up on the rock that had found its ground in the water. The creature stood undisturbed by the droplets that caught in his fur, raising his head and tipping the ears closer to the sound. His eyes were dark and reflected the white of the snow, creating an empty canvas for stories to be told. His snout was long and narrow, his nose twitching as he singled out the scents around him. A dark grey coat speckled with black, a tail that rested against his legs and gently swayed from one side to the other. Sharp claws scratched the rocks, finding leverage on the surface he was stood on. When he threw his head back he howled, the sound deep and dark, yet strangely captivating. The sound travelled far and wide, stretching out across the landscape, announcing the arrival of the wolf. Out of the woods came his back, two grown wolves and a few younglings, approaching the water with greater care. They were all well fed and energetic, a bounce to their step as they broke into a trot. The wolf looked back at them, his nature calm and peaceful, before he crossed the river and disappeared into the woods on the other side. His pack followed with no hesitation, even the little ones, knowing that where he walked they too would go, trusting where his step lead. No questions asked, no doubts, just a faithfulness and loyalty that brewed in them all. The wolf was out of their sight, but they were not worried. They knew he was waiting for them against the darkness of the bushes, ready to lead them where they needed to go. Soon, they were swallowed by the woods and gone from curious bystanders. Later that night, their howls could be heard from everywhere creatures walked, louder than the waterfall and the storm that roared on in the wild.

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Published by Quelly And Dorian